Another trip to London and another church to sample following the trip to St Martin in the Fields at the end of July 2009. This time Southwark Cathedral was visited. Partly this was on the recommendation of The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost and Rector of St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow where I normally worship on a Sunday.
Southwark Cathedral can trace its origins back to the Priory Church of St Marie Overie when a convent was established in 606 AD. It became the parish church of St Saviours in 1540 AD and a cathedral in 1905 AD. Hence the origin of the formal name – The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie.
We attended the 11:00 Choral Eucharist. With the Cathedral Choir on holiday, the service was sung by the Pilgrim Singers from Liverpool. The celebrant was Robert Titley, Canon Treasurer; assisted by the Very Reverend Colin Slee, Dean. The sermon was given by Bruce Saunders, Canon Pastor.
The Dean introduced the service, informing the congregation on the precautions being taken as a result of swine flu – more later on regarding the administration of communion. What did stick in the mind was his guidance for the peace, suggesting we bow to each other and give a verbal greeting. The greeting he used as an example was Oink, Oink. Even if it had not been as a result of the welcome when we entered the building from the steward, this utterance from the Dean made us realise that this was a place that we had to find out more about.
The procession was impressive with a verger leading the choir in with cross and lights. Behind the choir was another verger and the Dean carrying the gospel and two servers carrying the nave altar candles. Finally came the rest of the altar party led by a third verger.
From my seat I could not see where most of the servers and vergers were sitting, however the carriers of the nave altar candles sat either side of the nave altar.
The thurble was used during the offertry to cense the gifts, and at the elevation at the end of the eucharistic prayer.
During the adminstration of the host (no chalice given at present following the advice from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to mitigate against the spreading of swine flu – more at the Southwark Cathedral announcement), we received at the rail in the north transept where two of the vergers were sitting and the credence table could be seen.
After the service we were made very welcome and joined the congregation for tea/coffee in the courtyard. After exploring the outside of the building a bit more we sampled the food in the refectory.
Definitely a church to visit again – and we will!
More about Southwark Cathedral at: